Featuring real estate articles and information to help real estate buyers and sellers. The Nest features writings from Georges Benoliel and other real estate professionals. Georges is the Co-Founder of NestApple and has been working as an active real estate investor for over a decade.
Being part of a condo or co-op means that you have bought a home that is part of a community. How much of a community, though, can vary from place to place. Regardless of which community you’ve joined, certain things are a natural part of buying a unit. One of these is reviewing the condo (or co-op) Board Meeting Minutes before you decide to sign on the dotted line. Many people grossly underestimate what meeting minutes reveal and make the grave mistake of skimming through them or ignore them altogether. Before you think these minutes aren’t worth your time, it’s a good idea to read about their role in the co-op and condo-buying process. We will give sample board meeting minutes examples and board meeting minutes templates.
Reviewing condo and coop board meeting minutes is a critical step of the due diligence. We’ll explain everything you need to know about board meeting minutes from where to find them to how far back they go in this article.
Condo and co-op communities both function by holding meetings with the board and residents who live there. Every meeting, the official board (or HOA, in the condo’s case) brings up issues that affect the community. This can include anything from noisy neighbors to recent tax increases to more innocuous things like community parties. Depending on the meeting, there is a chance that the board (or HOA) will vote on new policies. These policies can include adding new fines to residents who disobey the rules, increasing maintenance fees, or determining a day when owners can do repairs.
Meetings are recorded via meeting minutes. Those are small notes that ensure that everyone is caught up to speed on what happened, why, and any objections they may have had.
Condo and co-op meeting minutes give you a fantastic glance into the inner workings of the community you’re about to join. It will provide you with an idea of how the board or HOA works, what procedure the minutes tend to follow, and how much residents have in the way the community’s run. Of course, meeting frequency is also pretty good to know.
The bigger reward that comes with reading the minutes is getting a feel for issues you might encounter. For example, if you notice any noise complaints from neighbors, you may want to address this. If the police were called to a particular unit, ask why and what was done about it.
Another essential thing to look for is any ongoing litigation or litigation results. This can let you know if there is any underhanded behavior you need to be aware of before moving in.
This varies from community to community. Some will have full meetings transcribed professionally, though that’s rare. Most of the time, it’s just a collection of small, simple highlights that explain the cause for the meeting and the notes of what each board member contributed. If the Board enacts a new policy, the minutes will mention it. The same goes for any votes that occur, too.
The vast majority of condos and co-ops will only allow people to access the minutes in their signing office in person. It’s typical for potential buyers to call up the co-op or condo signing office and schedule an appointment to see the meeting minutes. From there, they’ll give you a day where you can sit in the office and check out the notes.
Meeting minutes are considered to be critical legal documents and are often pulled up in court. This means that most communities will have them dating back to the official incorporation of the condo or co-op. Of course, if the co-op is older than 100 years (something that sometimes happens in New York City), the most recent 50 years will be stored in the building. With that said, most real estate lawyers in New York will only want to look through the last two years. The past two years give a reasonably accurate read of the condo. Most information that goes beyond that wouldn’t be relevant in court.
While you can, you probably shouldn’t. Having an excellent real estate attorney at your side can help you learn to “read between the lines” with the meetings. In other words, a lawyer will make it easier for you to determine whether the co-op or condo’s focus or management is reasonable. If it isn’t, your attorney will be able to advise you on how to duck out politely. Lawyers are great at finding details in documents. That’s why this is a teamwork thing. Having a second pair of eyes will reveal issues you’d miss otherwise.
Though reading the meeting minutes can be a reasonably revealing process, things get skipped over quite a bit. This is by design. Notetakers write the minutes with the intent of keeping them vague and opaque. This reduces liability and also keeps them from going off-track. Sometimes, you might not get the whole story. Before you assume you know the scoop, ask these questions:
Meeting minutes often act as a significant barometer for communities. Overactive minutes or major complaints should raise a red flag. Too many vague statements, too, are too much to handle. Whenever you feel lost while reading the Board Meeting Minutes, re-read them and ask questions. You can never be too careful!